Before taking the leap from a secure job (is that even a thing these days?) into the unpredictable world of self employment, there are a few things you should know before becoming a freelance copywriter. I’m coming from a place of “been there, recently done it,” so I have some advice that might help you with your journey.
While I’m still finding my feet, these are the five things I’d encourage you to think about before you dive in. After all, fail to prepare and prepare to fail… (Soz, couldn’t resist!)
1. Have some clients on the side
Unless your circumstances don’t allow it, it’s wise to build up a bank of clients before quitting your job. Start networking and getting your name out there – word of mouth is a powerful tool and it won’t be long before your services are in demand.
Nurture these relationships. In doing so, your clients will recommend your services to colleagues and peers who are looking for a copywriter. Boom – job done. You’ve got yourself a client base.
If you’re struggling to find clients on your own, join a site like People Per Hour or Upwork. These sites get a lot of negative press because of the number of low paying jobs available, but they’re a good way to get started. Which brings me onto my next point…
2. Build a portfolio
Try to find some easy gigs to get your portfolio up and running. This will provide you with work to show potential clients if they ask for it.
You don’t necessarily need an all-singing, all-dancing website to start with, but having an online blog to showcase your work is the easiest way to keep everything in one place.
Eventually, you might want a website that showcases your services and tone of voice, but I wouldn’t invest until you’ve earnt some money to put back into your business.
Also, NEVER WORK FOR FREE!
3. Get your prices nailed
Whether you choose to charge per word or project, or prefer an hourly or daily rate, you should set your standard rate from the get-go so that you don’t fall short.
Ask any other freelance copywriter and we’ll all have a different idea on what you should charge. My advice would be to avoid charging by the word. This doesn’t reflect the research time your copy needs or your skills and experience.
ProCopywriters has put together a great guide on suggested rates for hiring copywriters. Ultimately, you need to charge what’s right for you, but this document is an excellent place to start.
4. Sort an accountant
As per UK law (as of 2020), you pay tax on all earnings over £1000. Even if your copywriting business is just your side hustle for now, that amount doesn’t stretch very far. So, it’s best to get an accountant on your books or at least find someone who can do your yearly tax return.
It’s dull and tedious and not creative in the slightest. But finding someone to do the boring bits leaves you with more time to do the stuff you’re good at. It’s a no-brainer – but do it sooner rather than later so that you don’t have to worry about it while you’re busy looking for work.
5. Don’t let anyone stop you
When you’re ready to hand your notice in, it’s normal you’ll want to ask your nearest and dearest for advice. But if your gut is telling you the time is right, follow it. Nothing is permanent, so if you find your freelance career doesn’t work out or it’s not quite right for you, you can follow a different path instead.
That’s what I did. I recently handed my notice in to my comfortable job of five years, and it was genuinely one of the scariest things I’ve done. But I’m super excited for this new chapter of my life and know it’s the right move.
Pssst, calling all business owners… I still have space in my diary for this year and beyond, so if you’re looking for an experienced and talented freelance copywriter (who’s not too comfortable with self-praise), get in touch.